Oatley IGA becomes a lifeline for seniors

Lisa Edwards at her Oatley IGA, credit: supplied

Lisa Edwards at her Oatley IGA, credit: supplied

Oatley IGA owners Lisa and Gordon Edwards have shown a special brand of loyalty to senior customers during lockdown.

They have transformed their business into a community hub to protect elderly shoppers from COVID-19.

Mr and Mrs Edwards have navigated travel permits and restrictions to increase grocery delivery options for vulnerable people.

"Whether they ring up, come in or get a delivery, we'll have a yarn because it's the only time some customers get to talk to anyone," Mrs Edwards said.

"We know our regulars and if we haven't heard from someone in a while, we'll check in or ask around to make sure they're OK.

"We stay in touch with one woman, who just turned 104, and her daughter to keep supplies coming. She actually sent us some birthday cake, which was so kind."

When panic buying stripped shelves of essential goods, Mrs Edwards was quick to respond.

"During the first lockdown we made a toilet paper wait-list so older customers weren't at risk in crowds or left empty handed,

"I was worried about the seniors waiting outside for the truck to turn up, which was what was happening, and then getting caught in the stampede.

"So we made a list of seniors to make sure they got their supplies.

"Happily, everyone is only taking what they need this time."

Mrs Edwards said that the seniors are loyal customers, many having used the store for decades.

IGA Oatley thanks them for their loyalty by hosting a Christmas Seniors Lunch every year.

"We hold it at the local public school. We supply the food and the students do the serving," Mrs Edwards said.

"We usually get about 200 to 250 seniors on the day. It's a wonderful event."

Mrs Edwards is also grateful she's been able to keep staff employed and even hire new people.

"I'm so thankful to our staff for all their efforts," she said. "They work so hard and keep going over and above to help people."

Oatley MP Mark Coure thanked Mr and Mrs Edwards and their team for the vital role they play keeping communities connected.

"Supermarkets are so essential to our everyday lives, especially for some older people who might find ordering deliveries online unfamiliar or difficult," Mr Coure said.

"Locals are relying on these businesses for more than just groceries; a real testament to how this pandemic can bring us together."

NSW Office of Community Safety and Cohesion director Pia van de Zandt said it was these types of community initiatives that helped people thrive in challenging times.

"We are happier and healthier when we can meaningfully participate in our communities," Ms van de Zandt said.

"It's people taking this extra step in lockdown that's helping create stronger, safer and more inclusive communities."

Working together can help get COVID-19 under control.

For information and support in many languages, visit: coronavirus.dcj.nsw.gov.au